Gordon and I have been busy visiting school over the last two weeks as we launch the Rivers and Lochs in the Classroom project funded by the Greggs Foundation. This far the project has had a fantastic reception from pupils and teachers with everyone very excited about receiving their trout eggs in the coming weeks.
We now have the eggs in the office and with 2000 we have plenty in case of any mishaps within schools. Already you can see the trout ova developing within the eggs (see picture below).
The schools are left with the aquariums to practice maintaining the correct water temperature for a couple of weeks before the eggs are delivered. This is crucial as large, quick changes in water temperature could result in mass mortality where as slow temperature transitions are will keep the eggs safe. When we return with the trout eggs, we’ll change the water in the tanks from tap water to water from their local watercourse as the chlorine and other chemicals in tap water might kill the eggs.
We now have 2000 trout eggs in the office which are being kept at around 6 oC…after school holidays each class will receive 100 eggs which they will be responsible for until they hatch into alevins at which point they’ll be released into a local watercourse. The fish produced from these will be triploids and won’t be able to reproduce…this is important for safeguarding the genetic integrity of watercourses across Ayrshire.
Gordon talks a group of fascinated pupils through the aquariums operation. There’s much to learn ahead of getting eggs in the classroom and the pupils have to have a thorough understanding of what fish eggs and alevins require.
The eggs will be stored in the chamber on the left and to cool the water the pupils will have to put bottles of ice into the chamber on the right. By constantly cycling these frozen bottles they’ll be able to maintain a water temperature of around 8-9 oC. Pupils will also have to remove dead eggs, record temperatures and check that the pump and filters are both operating as they should on a daily basis.
As part of the activities the pupils also get the opportunity to try their hand at fly casting with small, indoor practice rods. These rods are ideal as they are easy to control and allow all the pupils to get a feel for casting. We set up a plastic hoops in the gym hall and very quickly the pupils are dropping the wool straight into the hoops….in a few years time there might be some serious competition on the river banks!
Before taking the pupils through the casting we talk about flies that anglers might use to catch different species of fish. Above are a selection of pike, trout and salmon flies that might be used to fool fish.